If you’re interested in the politics of public service reform or the creation of stable elite settlements in low income countries, do have a look at the Developmental Leadership Program. They’re the only research initiative I know of which takes the contentious politics of development as the main focus of their work. Here are the six propositions which underpin their research:
- The forms and processes of leadership directly influence the nature and quality of institutions and the patterns of state-building.
- Developmental ‘leadership’ is a political process, involving the legitimacy, authority and capacity to mobilise people and resources, and to forge coalitions, in pursuit of developmental goals.
- Coalitions (formal and informal) are groups of leaders and organisations that come together to achieve objectives they could not achieve on their own.
- Coalitions are the key political mechanisms that can resolve collective action problems, and are often based on prior networks.
- Institutions matter, but more attention needs to be given to issues of politics, power and agency, and therefore to the role of leaders, organisations and coalitions in shaping effective institutions.
- Domestic leaders, elites and coalitions are the agents required to contest, negotiate and devise legitimate, effective and durable institutions.
Their publications all seem like essential reading. Some of the papers I’m especially excited to get to:
- Suda Perera, “Political Engagement with Non-State Actors in Areas of Limited Statehood“
- Alina Rocha Menocal, “Inclusive Political Settlements: Evidence, Gaps, and Challenges of Institutional Transformation“
- Heather Marquette & Caryn Peiffer, “Corruption and Collective Action“
- Kate Maclean,”The ‘Medellin Miracle’: The Politics of Crisis, Elites and Coalitions“
Are there other great research initiatives on the politics of development that I haven’t heard about? (Update: Sarah O’Connor has since pointed me to the Effective States and Inclusive Development program, and ODI’s Politics and Governance centre.)